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Video GamesJun 7, 2024 1:00 pm CT

The next expansion for Guild Wars 2 takes us into the Janthir Wilds

This week Guild Wars 2 announced their newest expansion Janthir Wilds. Set on islands long guarded by the wizards of the Astral Ward, these zones are littered with the ruins of the fabled Mursaat along with more recent inhabitants such as the White Mantle. While there the players and their allies will befriend the lowland Kodan (a race of bearlike people) and master the use of the spear, a new terrestrial weapon for all nine professions — with new and unique abilities unlocked for each. Janthir Wilds will release on August 20, 2024.

Janthir Wilds is the second annual expansion since the main narrative of Guild Wars 2 was concluded with the End of Dragons expansion. Like its predecessor Secrets of the Obscure this expansion will have quarterly updates, with the maps and story expanding across them. For those who played in expansions prior to End of Dragons this has replaced the old “Living Season” mechanic, granting players full access to future content over the life of each expansion.

Besides the story that will be uncovered as players quest in Janthir Wilds there are some new features. Besides the aforementioned addition of spear to each profession, the Warclaw mount will become available in PVE content (previously only available in World Versus World) and the first quarterly update due in November will include the first classic Raid since The Key of Ahdashim was released during the Path of Fire expansion five years ago.

There is also a new feature coming that players of many MMOs have desired since time immemorial: player housing.

Homestead sweet homestead

In Janthir Wilds players will get a Homestead that is shared by all the characters on their account. Similar to both guild housing and the “home instance” players will be able to decorate as well as do daily gathering activities — and invite people to visit! The Homestead will expand over time as you work on the associated Mastery, providing more space for your treasures and more activities to complete. While the first Homestead has a distinctly Norn feel, it seems likely that future expansions will offer Homestead appearances more appropriate to the other playable races, so those who want a more industrial Charr appearance for their Homestead will unfortunately need to wait.

Besides the fact Guild Wars 2 is buy to play — you pay for the base game and expansions, but there is no subscription like in World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14 — one of the main appeals of the game is the complete lack of leveling after you complete the base expansion; you hit level 80 and level 80 is where you’ll stay. Similarly there’s no gear treadmill: while some gear is better or more appropriate than others based on their stat allocation, once you get a full set of Ascended or Legendary gear you’re essentially done (and even an easily-acquired set of Exotic gear is more than adequate for most activities). As a result if you haven’t played Guild Wars 2 since Heart of the Wild or even when it originally released, you can jump right back in starting with the new expansion and all you’ll be missing is the intervening story. You may not recognize some of the NPCs you’ll be adventuring with, but nothing is stopping you from exploring Janthir Wilds on the day of release.

While ArenaNet has had some issues transitioning to an annual model (as they discuss here), they were successful in meeting their objectives during Secrets of the Obscure. With that experience under their belts Janthir Wilds should be an engrossing place to adventure and make a home once it releases on August 20.

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